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Never Have I Ever: Submitted to my Enemy: Epilogue

Alex - Seven years later

“So, what do you think?”

Rain looked around the living room critically. “I think you did good. I can’t wait to see his face when he comes home.”

“Is Mom on her way?”

The front door swung open, and Cassie rushed inside.

“I’m here! Am I late?”

I hurried over and took the bags she was holding. “You’re good.”

“The lineup at the store was crazy.” She followed me into the kitchen with Rain on her heels.

“How was class?” I pulled out the supplies I’d ordered.

“Good.” Cassie leaned against the wall. “Busy, but it’s that time of year.”

It was a running joke in the family that everyone except me was a student. Rain was going into high school next year, and both Kai and Cassie attended the same college. Well, they did for the next week, since Kai was graduating from his program.

I was ridiculously proud of him and of his family.

After we’d graduated from Rutherford, Kai and I had both been accepted into our master’s programs at the University of Washington. We’d moved to Seattle that summer, and a year later, we’d been able to move Cassie and Rain to the city.

Thanks to some connections Kai had made, he’d been able to hook Cassie up with a job at the school. That had helped her start her nursing degree part time, and she was set to graduate next year.

Rain was thriving in the city and was on scholarship at one of the best private schools in the area.

After finishing my MBA, I’d gotten a job at an import-export company and now worked as their financial manager. Kai had graduated with his master’s the same year and had started his PhD program.

I liked my job, and I was proud of how quickly I’d moved up to a management position, but the real joy in my life was watching my boyfriend working his ass off to get his doctorate.

The long nights doing research and endless days he’d spent holed away in his office as he’d worked on his dissertation had paid off, and my man had fulfilled his dreams. And more than that, one of his professors had offered him a position on her research team starting in the summer.

Things hadn’t been all smooth sailing. We’d struggled a lot in those first few years. Seattle was an expensive city, and while we’d both managed to snag scholarships, and Cassie’s job had helped offset Kai’s tuition, money had been tight.

When we’d moved, Kai had stopped stripping because the late hours were too hard to maintain while doing such a rigorous academic program, and there had been months when we’d barely managed to scrape enough together to pay our bills and put food on the table.

Things had gotten better when I’d graduated and had started working full-time. Now that Kai was done with school and had a job lined up, we were finally living comfortably and able to help set Cassie and Rain up for the future they deserved.

I’d gotten assessed for ADHD, and Kai had been right. A late diagnosis was hard to come to terms with, but finally understanding why my brain worked the way it did had helped me learn how to manage my symptoms. I’d always struggle with them, but now they didn’t rule my life the way they had for so long.

The only part of our lives that hadn’t been a struggle was our relationship. Kai’s unwavering support hadn’t solved my issues, but knowing he loved me just as I was and would always be there for me had done wonders for not only my sense of self-worth but also in helping me work through the traumas in my past.

Kai was my everything—my best friend, my confidant, and my biggest cheerleader. Every night I got to sleep next to him was a gift, and seeing him first thing in the morning, when he was all sleepy and soft, was my favorite part of the day.

After nearly eight years together, I still got butterflies when he walked into the room, and his sexy smirk still brought me to my knees. Our sex life was as varied as it was exciting, and exploring our fantasies together never got old.

Being with him was easy, but staying together wasn’t something we took for granted. We worked on our relationship and made a point to put each other first. Seeing Kai happy was my greatest joy, just like my happiness was his.

“Can you put these out on the table?” I handed the pile of supplies to Rain.

She took them and scurried out of the kitchen.

“What can I do to help?” Cassie asked.

I checked the time and handed her the box I’d picked up that afternoon. Kai would be home any minute. “Can you put these on the table?”

I grabbed the bottle of sparkling juice out of the fridge and hurried into the dining area to set it with the rest of the stuff.

Kai had been adamant that he didn’t want anything fancy for graduation. He’d requested we all go out to a nice restaurant after his commencement ceremony. I’d already made a reservation at a sushi restaurant we’d always wanted to try, but no way in hell was that all we were doing to celebrate.

Rain shooed me away from the table and hurried around it, adjusting the champagne glasses I’d put out and moving the plates of his favorite snacks until the table was up to her standards. She stepped back, a pleased smile on her face

“Seal of approval?” I asked.


She came around the table and gave me a quick hug. “He’s going to lose his mind.”

“I hope so.” I hugged her back.

“We’re down to the wire, kids.” Cassie tapped her wrist.

Rain let out a little squeal, ran over to the couch, and grabbed the bag of confetti she’d insisted on buying. She handed some out. Then the three of us waited for Kai to come home.

A few minutes later, the lock turned, and the door swung open.

“Happy graduation!” we shouted, letting loose our handfuls of confetti.

Kai stood in the doorway, a shocked expression on his handsome face as colorful bits of paper rained down around him. Seconds later, the shock melted away and was replaced by a shy smile as he stepped into the apartment.

“You guys.” He flushed pink. “You didn’t have to do this.”

The living room looked like the graduation section at Target had exploded in it. The decorations were recycled from the various graduation celebrations we’d done over the years, and I loved how we had family traditions like this.

I’d never understood the true meaning of family until Rain and Cassie had accepted me as one of their own. Cassie was just as mothering and amazing to me as she was with Kai and Rain, and Rain always introduced me as her bonus brother. They’d also adopted my grandmother, and we flew her to town as often as we could for the holidays.

“Of course we did, Dr. Alexander.” I grinned as his blush deepened. “We’re so proud of you.”

“Get your asses in here.” Kai held his arms out, and the three of us rushed into them, nearly knocking him over in our haste to hug mug him.

“I’m so proud of you,” Cassie said, her voice thick when we’d stepped back.

“I couldn’t have done it without you.” Kai folded her into a hug and held her tight as a few tears slid down her cheeks. “All of this is because you believed in me. Never forget that, okay? I never will.”

I watched them, my throat tight. Cassie had sacrificed so much for her kids, and I would be forever grateful we could help her not only see her kids have the life she’d always wanted for them but also for her to finally realize her own dreams.

“Congratulations!” When he and Cassie broke apart, Rain flew into Kai’s arms.

Laughing, Kai hugged her tight. “Thanks, pumpkin.”

Rain stepped back, and Kai tugged me into his arms. His big body trembled slightly.

“You okay?” I asked.

“Yeah. It’s just all hitting me at once. It’s finally over. After all those years of struggling, of working ourselves to the bone, we did it.”

“You did it.” I kissed his neck. “This is because of you, babe. Your hard work, your determination. You earned this, and I’m so fucking proud of you.”

“Um, baby?” he asked a few moments later.


“Why is there a pile of pet stuff on our dining room table?” He chuckled and pressed his lips into my neck. “If that’s your hint that you want to try puppy play, I’m game. But maybe next time, you can save that for when we’re alone and can do something about it.”

“Hmmmm, I’d never say no to trying that. But that’s not what those are for.”

He pulled away and gave me a questioning look. “You don’t have to do that now,” he said when he noticed Rain had grabbed a broom and was sweeping up the confetti.

“Yeah, I do.”

He blinked like a confused owl and looked between us. “What’s going on?”

“Nothing.” Cassie smiled serenely, and Rain giggled.

“Okaaaay.” He slung his arm over my shoulder and pressed a kiss against my hair.

Cassie went to the table and grabbed the bottle of sparkling juice. “Time for a toast.”

Kai grinned at her and took the bottle, a calculating gleam in his eyes. What was going on? Kai winked at me and focused on opening the bottle.

When Kai popped the cork, we cheered. Thankfully, he kept hold of it so it didn’t dent the wall like had happened the first time we’d made a sparkling juice toast. He poured out four glasses.

“To Kai,” I held my glass up. “For all the years of hard work, but for also being the backbone of this family. We love you, and we’re so proud of you. Congratulations, Dr. Alexander.”

Rain, Cassie, and I took sips of our juice, but Kai held still, his eyes dark and intense.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“I also have a toast I want to make. But I don’t know who to make it out to.”

“I don’t get it.”

“Well, I could toast Alex, my boyfriend. Or I could toast Alex, my fiancée.”

My brain stuttered as I tried to compute his words.

“But we’re not—” I clamped my mouth shut. “Really?”

He leaned in and pressed a soft kiss against my lips. “I love you, Alex, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you by my side. So my question to you is, will you marry me?”

Adrenaline and love poured into my system. He wanted to marry me?

Kai and I had talked about marriage, and we’d agreed we’d take that step eventually. We already shared every aspect of our lives, and neither of us felt like something was missing, so we’d always made marriage more of an abstract idea than a plan.

“Yes, I’ll marry you,” I said when my brain and mouth were once again connected.

Cassie and Rain cheered as Kai swept me up in a crushing one-armed hug. “I love you,” he whispered into my ear.

“I love you too.” I chuckled.

“What’s funny?” He pulled away, his eyes soft and a fond smile on his lips.

“Just you being annoyingly perfect again. Did you plan this?”

“Sort of.” He stepped back and took a sip of his drink. “I was going to ask you after our celebration dinner, but the moment was too perfect to pass up.”

“Do you have a ring?” Rain asked. “You can’t propose without a ring.”

“I thought it would be better if we went shopping for our rings together. That way we could get exactly what we want.”

My cheeks hurt from how wide my smile was. Kai knew me so well. As much as being surprised with a ring would have been fun, I’d rather pick them out together.

“I do have something for you.” I put my glass down on the table. “Open that.” I pointed to the white box next to the supplies.

Kai put his drink down and carefully pulled the box open. “Are these what I think they are? You drove all the way to Welsh’s to get cinnamon rolls for us?”

Every year on our anniversary, we made the drive down to Welsh’s and picked up a box of cinnamon rolls to celebrate. Eating them always reminded me of those early days in class when we’d been getting to know each other, and I still got a stiffy watching him lick icing off his fingers.

I grinned. “Yup. And that’s not all.” I took his hand and tugged him toward our bedroom.

“Where are we going?” he asked. “What’s going on?”

“You’ll see.” I stopped in front of our door. “Go ahead.”

Kai pushed the door open and peeked inside. “Oh my god!” he exclaimed and rushed into the room.

Rain and Cassie crowded behind me. Kai knelt next to the bed. “Hi, buddy. Aren’t you beautiful?” He gently stroked his hand down the puppy’s soft red fur.

The puppy rolled onto his back, his tongue hanging out as he demanded belly rubs.

Laughing, Kai did as the puppy demanded.

“This is Cinnamon,” I said. “He’s a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever and Border Collie mix. He’s ten weeks old, and he’s our new furever friend.”

“Hi, Cinnamon,” Kai said to the puppy. “Who’s a good boy? Are you a good boy?”

Cinnamon scrambled up and leaned his body against Kai’s chest. Kai gently scooped him up and held him as he stood.

Kai had wanted a dog since he was little, but it had never been an option. A few weeks ago, a local shelter had posted about how he and his littermates had been surrendered to them. Something about his little face and big blue eyes had called to me, and Rain, Cassie, and I had gone to the shelter the next day to meet him.

I’d fallen in love with his goofy personality, and he’d taken to all of us instantly. Leaving him there for the past few weeks so he could be properly weaned from his brothers and sisters had been a struggle, and we’d purposely planned the celebration for the day I’d been allowed to bring Cinnamon home.

“Thank you.” Kai pressed a kiss against my lips, mindful of the wiggly puppy in his arms.

Cinnamon licked the side of Kai’s face, then wriggled until Kai handed him to me so he could give me a slobbery kiss too.

“You like him?” I put him on the ground, but rather than run around or explore his surroundings, Cinnamon plopped down on Kai’s foot and leaned against his leg.

It had been a risk to bring home a dog Kai had never met, and I’d gone back and forth on whether or not giving a puppy as a gift was a good idea. But I’d known that Cinnamon was meant to be ours, and by the looks of it, I’d been right.

“I love him.” He bent down and petted his new friend. “Now it looks like we have no choice but to bump up our moving timeline.”

I grinned and knelt next to him. Cinnamon jumped up and bounced between us excitedly. “Looks like.”

Kai and I had been living in our apartment for the past five years. Cassie and Rain lived in the building too, but we’d been talking about moving into a house. The plan had been to start looking after Kai was settled in his job, but having an energetic puppy was definitely a motivator to start sooner.

“So, Alex, how does it feel to know that your name is going to be Alex Alexander?” Rain teased.

“Better than if it was going to be Alexander Alexander.” I grinned at her.

My legal name was Alex, not Alexander, and the irony of falling in love with someone with the same surname was a running joke in the family.

We’d already decided that professionally I’d continue to use Ellis as my last name, but I would take Kai’s name after we eventually got married.

When I was sixteen, I’d changed my last name to Ellis—my grandmother’s maiden name—to distance myself from my parents and their legacy of bullshit. The move had been good for my mental health, and it had also stopped people from linking me with my parents’ crimes if they googled me. But not having anyone with the same name as me had been isolating and made me feel like I didn’t belong anywhere.

I wanted to share Kai’s name. Family was everything to us, and taking that last step to legally be one of them was a no-brainer, even if it would make things confusing. I was exactly where I was meant to be, and I finally had the family I’d only dreamed of.

The last eight years had been the best years of my life, and I couldn’t wait to see what the future had in store for us. And to marry the man who’d not only shown me what unconditional love was but who loved me as much as I loved him.

I’d found not only my person but also my family when I’d met Kai, and I was so thankful he was mine.


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